Thirteen suppliers who failed vetting at the locational level delivered maize to Eldoret and Kisumu National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) depots and were paid more than Sh1 billion, a ministry of Agriculture audit shows.
The audit submitted to the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture by Principal Secretary Richard Lesiyampe shows that some farmers had quoted farm sizes that were not achievable in the areas indicated on the forms.
The audit was conducted by the head of Internal Audit Unit at the ministry, Moses Karanja.
“Yields used on some forms were unrealistic and unachievable. Support documents on the acreage quoted on the forms were unavailable,” the audit reads in part.
“Information gathered in the field revealed that some chiefs had little knowledge of the suppliers despite the fact they had signed their supply forms,” added Dr Lesiyampe.
It also emerged that some suppliers could not be identified by the chiefs as being genuine farmers in their regions.
In Kisumude depot, five farmers who had supplied 10,000 bags were found to be traders and failed the vetting although Sh130,074,459 had been paid to them as partial payment.
Total payment due to the five suppliers amounts to Sh286,489,144.
In Nakuru depot, out of 18 farmers vetted, nine were disowned by their chief who they had indicated in application for maize purchase form as their witness.
They had supplied Nakuru NCPB depot with maize valued at Sh156,441,643 out of which Sh30,472,892 has already been paid hence outstanding balance of Sh125,968,750.
FILLED SUPPLY FORMS
In Bungoma depot,19 traders who supplied maize were paid a whooping Sh534,055,397.
However, the ministry audit indicates that some individuals who had supplied maize to the depot had not filled the supply forms.
“Most of the suppliers were from neighbouring counties and some had also delivered large quantities to other depots including Mois Bridge. The records available at the depot were inconsistent and the retrieval was noted to be poor,” reads the audit report.
The audit has proposed that due to the outcome of the vetting of farmers in North and South Rift regions only amount of Sh3,049,866,608 be considered for payment.
Farmers are still demanding close to Sh4 billion for produce delivered to NCPB stores.
SUSPENDED MAIZE BUYING
The board suspended buying of maize two months ago after it exhausted the Sh7.1 billion to buy 2.4 million bags of maize to replenish the Country’s Strategic Grains Reserve.
Leaders from the North Rift have demanded for an independent audit to establish all maize deliveries made to National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) depots countrywide. They also want the audit to reveal the names of those who made the deliveries.
The leaders, among them Moiben MP Silas Tiren and his Nandi Hills counterpart Alfred Keter, said many farmers were grappling with financial problems, with some who delivered their maize as early as December yet to be paid.
“We need an independent audit to unearth all these mysteries. Farmers have no other source of income. I wonder why we are destroying the lives of these people,” said Mr Tiren.
Mr Keter said influential individuals have been importing maize and supplying it to NCPB at the expense of genuine farmers.
“We should be given the names of those who filled NCPB depots with maize. Many farmers cannot cater for their families,” said Mr Keter.
“Farmers should not suffer because of cartels that benefited from unscrupulous deals. Corrupt individuals are threatening to derail President Kenyatta’s Big Four Agenda,” he added.
Sources told the Nation that those who supplied the produce and got paid were traders who took advantage of the situation to buy maize from farmers at low prices, compared with the high premiums offered by the government.
Cereal farmers have called for the setting up of buying centres to ease delivery of maize.
“Silos have become a cartel paradise. It is where they lay and hatch their eggs,” said Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago.
The farmers have also petitioned the government to hand over NCPB roles to county governments after the agriculture department was transferred to devolved units.
They said decentralization of NCPB would safeguard it from mismanagement.
Anti-graft body-Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) has since commenced investigation on powerful individuals behind the maize scandal.
Detectives have pitched camp at various NCPB depots in Western Kenya where cheap crop suspected to be from Uganda and Mexico was delivered and prompt payment made at the expense of genuine farmers.